2007-06-21 / News

No-discharge compliance program in effect

By Sam Bari

After several revisions and legislative changes, the initially beleaguered and still controversial state Department of Environmental Management's No-Discharge Compliance Program, went into effect on June 1, 2006. This means that all boats subject to the program must be inspected and display a decal by June 1, 2007.

The program applies to all boats registered in Rhode Island with permanently installed marine toilets.


Only three categories of boats are exempt from the program:

Boats with self-contained porta potties, or no toilet at all. Boats that are already subject to mandatory U.S. Coast Guard inspection,

as demonstrated by a valid USCGissued

certificate of inspection, and transient boats operated or moored in state waters for less than 30 days.


All boats subject to the program must obtain and display a decal issued by an authorized certification agent. Decals are issued after an inspection to verify that the boat is

in compliance with the state's nodischarge

law. All decals are valid for a period of four years.

Effective dates

The program has been operational since April 2006 and formally took effect on June 1, 2006. The penalty and enforcement provisions of the program took effect on June 1, 2007. After June 1, 2007, any boat subject to the program that fails to display a decal may be subject to enforcement action, including a fine of up to $100.

Inspection Fees

Certification agents may charge up to $35 per boat for each inspection and decal. Agents may charge boats with more than one marine toilet up to $25 for each additional toilet.

The law

According to the state DEM Office of Water Resources, the federal Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of untreated, raw sewage from any vessel within three miles of shore in the territorial waters of the United States. This includes the Great Lakes and all navigable rivers.

On August 10, 1998, the state of Rhode Island took a step toward ensuring better water quality in marine waters by designated their coastal waters as a No Discharge Area (NDA). The state waters include territorial seas within three miles of shore, including all of Narragansett Bay. An NDA is a designated body of water in which the discharge of treated and untreated boat sewage is prohibited. This does not include grey water or sink water.

To learn more about this program and how it affects boat owners, visit the state DEM website at www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bpoladm/ manserv/hfb/boating/boating. htm.

To find a local marina or harbor master and get inspected today go to: www.ri.gov/DEM/marineseptic/ finder/ and click on "boating licenses."

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